Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:25 am
MARTIN DeANGELIS, Staff Writer, The Press of Atlantic City
The Greater Atlantic City Chamber is trying to mount pressure from its members and area residents to oppose state legislators’ plan to expand casino gambling into North Jersey.
Chamber officials emailed members this week with a link to the chamber’s “action center,” which includes the start of an anti-casino message to numerous New Jersey officials, including all members of the state Senate Budget Committee.
That committee has scheduled a hearing for Monday in Trenton on a proposed ballot referendum allowing two casinos outside Atlantic City. The prepared message starts by urging all “responsible public officials” to vote against putting that referendum, which would change the state Constitution, on the state’s ballot this year.
The Greater Atlantic City Chamber is also looking for members and supporters to go and speak out at that Budget Committee hearing, at 1 p.m. Monday in the Statehouse Annex in Trenton, said Bob Marshall, the chamber’s legislative affairs director.
“We’ve been up there multiple times already, (Chamber President) Joe Kelly and myself, and at this point, we think we really need the businesses to come up,” Marshall said. “In addition to the outreach to (legislative) offices, they’ve got to see the people who are going to be affected by this bad public policy.”
State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto had sponsored competing plans for casinos outside Atlantic City, but Gov. Chris Christie announced a compromise last month. The bill allows two casinos in North Jersey, at least 72 miles away from Atlantic City, but doesn’t specify the locations.
Marshall said the link to the online action center went to the local chamber’s database of roughly 1,100 members. After a brief start, the message leaves much more room for casino opponents to add their own thoughts on the issue.